International Student Guide to Studying Chemistry in the US
If you are an international student interested in studying science in the US, you might consider studying chemistry. Chemistry is considered the “central science”, as it is the science of the molecular scale, and it is at the molecular level that major advancements are being made in areas such as medicine, nanotechnology, new materials, and the environment. A firm understanding of chemistry is required in order to fully understand most other areas of science.
What is Chemistry?
Chemistry is the study of the composition, properties and behavior of matter. Chemistry is referred to as the “central science” because it joins together physics, mathematics, biology, medicine, and the earth and environmental sciences. Because of this, knowledge of the nature of chemicals and chemical processes provides valuable insight into a variety of physical and biological phenomena. Understanding chemistry is useful as it provides a basis for understanding the physical world we live in.
Because it is so fundamental to our world, chemistry plays a role of some kind in everyone’s lives, and touches almost every aspect of our existence in one way or another. We need chemistry in order to meet our basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, health, energy, and clean air, water, and soil. We use chemical technologies to enrich our quality of life by using it to find solutions to problems in health, materials, and energy usage.
What to Expect in a Chemistry Major
Chemistry is by no means an easy subject. Students who study chemistry must be prepared to spend long hours in class, studying, and in labs. If you choose to study chemistry in the United States, you will:
- Learn how everyday products such as fabrics and plastics are created
- Write lab reports
- Create chemical reactions in the lab
- Use lab tests to identify unknown compounds
- Take math, physics, and biology as well as chemistry
Some courses that you will likely be required to take as a chemistry major include:
- Analytical chemistry
- Environmental chemistry
- Inorganic chemistry
- Organic chemistry
- Physical chemistry
- Polymer and materials chemistry
- Spectroscopy and crystallography
What to Look for in a Chemistry Program
When choosing between colleges, you will need to consider a number of factors. One of the most important of these factors is your likely field of study. If you are considering studying chemistry in the United States, you should look into each of your prospective school’s chemistry departments, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the program approved by the American Chemical Society?
- Does the program award a B.A., B.S., or both?
- What research opportunities will you have?
- Does the program focus more on preparing students for grad school or employment?
All of these are important factors to consider when choosing between schools. The quality of your school’s chemistry department will affect not only your college experience, but also your future career options.
A degree in chemistry prepares students for a number of lucrative and rewarding careers, including:
- Pharmacists play a vital role in the treatment of disease. They advise both doctors and patients about the dosages, interactions, and side effects of certain medications. Some research new medications for drug companies or monitor drug therapy at hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health institutions.
- Agricultural Scientist
- These scientists study farm crops and animals in order to improve their quality and yield.
- Food Scientist
- Food scientists research food and develop new ways to preserve and package it.
- Chemistry teachers work in elementary, middle, and high schools (both public and private) and prepare students for college or the work world while instilling in them knowledge and a lifelong love of learning.
- Forensic Scientist
- Sometimes called crime laboratory analysts, these scientists provide scientific information and expert opinions for judges, juries, and lawyers.
- Materials Engineer
- These engineers find ways to use and improve existing materials and create new materials.
- Occupational Health and
- These professionals promote better health and safety in work environments in order to keep workers and the general public safe. They also enforce air quality and environmental regulations.
Chemistry prepares students for any number of interesting and rewarding careers. It is not for everyone, but students who study chemistry can take great pride in the degree they earn as undergraduates.